MIAMI — John Leahy, COO of Airbus kicked off the company’s Innovation Days 2015 with various program updates. Leahy stressed emerging countries are driving the growth in commercial aviation and that 3.3 billion passengers are flying annually. He also highlighted a focus on passenger comfort, such as the minimum 18-inch seat width standard across all Airbus families, compared to Boeing’s 17. Furthermore, he claimed improving economy class will be key to the future, as 90% of passengers are flying Y class in in the post-economic recession world.
Leahy listed current 2015 aircraft orders at 209 for Airbus and 128 for Boeing. His first program update covered the A320 family. Leahy said an airplane from the A320 family takes off every 2 seconds and also mentioned its 99.7% reliability. Out of the manufacturer’s 6,399 aircraft backlog, 1,350 orders are for the A320ceo and 3,794 for the A320neo.
Leahy praised the A320neo family as the “only true single aisle family”, citing customers’ use of the A320 and A321, while Boeing’s customers focus on the 737-800. Airbus has almost 60% of the new generation market with 3,794 orders for the neo, while Boeing has 2,724 orders for its 737 MAX. Production is on track to hit 50 aircraft per month in 2017.
Leahy added that he sees A320 production at over 60 airplanes per month in the future, but this would require further studies to ensure a stable supply chain. In addition, he forecasted the first A320 delivery from the future Mobile, Alabama plant for the second quarter of 2016. Currently, the company produces 42 A320s per month.
Leahy moved to the A330 and said production will fall from ten to six aircraft per month over the next year because of weak demand but also hinted there could be some A330ceo orders later this year. He also mentioned the first delivery of the A330 increased gross weight (242-tonne) Delta, which will take place on May 28th. Moreover, with respect to the A330 “regional”, he expects to make an announcement at this year’s Paris Air Show.
Leahy did not provide any new updates on the A350. The newest aircraft from Airbus has 780 orders with three deliveries. The A350 has 40 customers thus far.
Leahy wrapped up his briefing with an A380 update. He highlighted the growth in A380 capacity share at world’s major airports. Without providing specifics, he mentioned the possibility of new orders this year. When pressed on the A380neo, Leahy said the company continues to study the business case and that it would be a hard sell to the board with only a single customer.